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David Brown

David Brown: 7 Hiring Mistakes You Need to Avoid




In a people business, you succeed or fail
by the people you have on the bus

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 edition of INSTORE.

business advice for jewelers from David Brown

Having the wrong staff is one of the biggest frustrations most store owners share with us. The cost of a poor performing staff member can be hard to quantify but research has shown that even if a poor performer is cut after six months of employment it’s estimated to cost up to three times their annual salary in missed opportunities, recruiting costs and costs of dismissal. Keep the employee, however, and the costs over an extended period of time will run considerably higher than that.

So how do you minimize the risk of making a mistake when you recruit? Here are seven practices to avoid if you wish to boost your chances of getting it right the first time:

Rushing the hiring process. This is a common problem, driven by a desire to get the process over with. With most jobs having multiple applicants these days it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and reach for the first reasonable applicant you see. This is a false economy, especially if you want to avoid repeating the process a few months later.


Not getting enough references and not checking them. It still amazes me how many employers fail to follow through on reference checks. Always ask the applicant if they are happy for you to contact other people he or she has worked with outside of the recommendations. References are seldom unfavorable, but the opinions of others the candidate has have worked with can be valuable.

Not having a hiring process. Knowing in advance what procedure you will use to work through applicants will stop you from being overwhelmed when applications arrive. You can quickly eliminate many applications with simple pre-check criteria. (For example, if previous experience is a must, then this will reduce numbers). Also determine how many interview stages you will have. I know one jewelry store owner who was very successful at finding good candidates — they had up to four interviews with the final applicant, which helped greatly in getting it right.

There is one question to ask every previous employer you reference check. “Would you hire them again?” The answer isn’t as important as the silence …”

Not asking the most important question. There is one question to ask every previous employer you reference check. “Would you hire them again?” The answer isn’t as important as the silence … if they pause before answering, then whatever else they say after that doesn’t matter. The pause is the answer.

Not being clear on what you want for the position. Define the position well. Not knowing what it is you are wanting will increase your chances of inadvertently hiring a round peg for a square hole. Remember that 50 percent of hiring mistakes are as much the fault of the hirer as the hiree. Do your best to reduce your risk.

Only considering applicants. Sometimes the best people are the ones you need to approach. Don’t just consider people who apply for the job, look at who has impressed you when visiting other businesses around town. I know one jeweler who seldom advertised a job; instead they would approach staff from other businesses who had impressed them.


Not having an induction process. Hiring is just the start. Before you even run the ad know what training the person will get when she starts with you. Show them this as part of the interview process and it will help you judge their reaction and their ability to do it. It will also demonstrate to them what the job actually involves and will help them determine if they are right for it as well.


David Brown is president of the Edge Retail Academy. To learn how to complete a break-even analysis, contact or (877) 569-8657.








She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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